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Somers writes: "My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure."

Suicides in the Army have now surpassed the rate of combat fatalities. (photo: US Army)
Suicides in the Army have now surpassed the rate of combat fatalities. (photo: US Army)

My Final Mission

By Daniel Somers, Gawker

26 June 13


Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.

am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured "overprescribing epidemic," which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out - and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers your social media marketing partner


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+29 # indian weaver 2013-06-26 12:43
And this person is one of 10,000s so destroyed by dubya, dick and Obama. Those assassins and torturers don't care about anyone but themselves. Great leaders aren't they, leading us into extreme violence while these 3 evil terrorist are hiding in their dark corners. Billions of humans will celebrate when those 3 die, and the sooner the better for my planet and everything on it. A petition may be posted nationwide to prepare for celebrations when they die.
+38 # Walter J Smith 2013-06-26 20:59
Thank you for publishing this superior testimonial to the Veterans Administration' s hollow PR campaign advertising all over the Veterans world about how great its PTSD programs are and how easily accessed.

The advertising is Obamaesque.

The substantive & qualitative PTSD the VA offers is meagre at best, and most often no where to be found.

I never knew Mr. Somers. And his comments verify my experience.

The VA spends more time telling us it has no money to do anything, or telling us we cannot see the relevant needed specialist, or telling us there is nothing that can be done for (fill in the blanks).

Mr. Somers is a hero for every veteran who ever wasted the time dealing with the VA.
+22 # luvdoc 2013-06-26 22:04
How utterly tragic. Evil. And who will mourn the empire when it inevitably, passes? Perhaps a few will survive to to tell the tale, to breath a sigh of relief.

A curse upon the greedy, the war lords, the wall street zombies, the obscenely wealthy, the souless politicians, and on and on: may they suffer a thousand times more in measure to what they have caused. luvdoc
+22 # Billy Bob 2013-06-27 07:38
No. Like after the fall of the Roman Empire, all you're left with is a dark ages that lasts hundreds of years.

Rather than wishing for the empire to be destroyed, I think we should wish for it to be converted back into a democracy and a republic.

Rather than trying to rebuild civilization after it's been destroyed, I hope we can revive it before it's gone altogether.
+3 # lcotler 2013-06-27 14:41
While I truly appreciate your "hope", the system cannot be fixed. It has run away with itself. It has become a "terminator". We can organize now and reach out to everyone, but do not think our country can be reformed peacefully. The Forces of Greed are now human and NON-HUMAN; i.e., the System will do whatever it can to survive our attempts at reform and it will always be one step ahead. Our best hope is to ready our People for a war of attrition with the Forces ready to take us down in whatever way it can. We the People have let the System get too powerful. The Three Branches of government cannot save us from the collapse that awaits us. But do not give up all hope: when towns, cities, and states start to give notice to the "sensors" of the System that we are preparing for chaos and as peaceful a revolution as possible, it won't be the System that wakes up and responds; it'll be more and more people who will gather in the Commons and give each other a knowing wink that we will stand together—come what may.

Long live Daniel Somers!
+1 # Billy Bob 2013-06-27 20:34
I do hope you're wrong, because you can't win a war of attrition. You will lose horribly and the state will not suffer at all as a result.

The ONLY power we have is to wage a GENERAL STRIKE. Until that happens, we are powerless to stop this through any other means, besides those of direct political involvement in the system as it now stands.
+17 # Cdesignpdx 2013-06-26 23:22
I'm in tears.
+20 # Merschrod 2013-06-27 01:13
A brave Senator and Representative should read this testimony when the next military appropriations bill goes to the floor.
+31 # dick 2013-06-27 05:49
The biggest BIG LIE of all: We Support Our Troops.
+2 # DurangoKid 2013-06-28 09:16
I don't know what "we support our troops" means.
0 # RobertMStahl 2013-06-27 06:14
Read Arthur Silber
+21 # Billy Bob 2013-06-27 06:59
Meanwhile, those who did far worse without any conscience continue to live without any self-doubts.
+14 # tedrey 2013-06-27 07:16
I weep for Daniel Somers and his family; I hope all of us do. But we must not br satisfier by sympathy and forget him and his fellows, and we must act both to mitigate the continuing unnecessary suffering of others, and prevent recurrences of the madness which enveloped him. We must muster the intelligence and the morality that most of our leaders so conspicuously lack, and the courage that Daniel Somers showed, in life and in death.
+19 # Buddha 2013-06-27 09:10
We always seem to have money for more wars, more military hardware...but there never seems to be money (or will) to serve and heal our soldiers when they are used up by our War Machine...Dispo sable Soldiers for a Disposable Culture. Sad.
+18 # tbcrawford8 2013-06-27 10:10
Thank you Daniel Somers for your beautiful description of a hell we must reject; and thank you to your family for their courage to share this account that should be read by us all. Our prayers for the thousands who still suffer, and those still being sent to their destruction. When will we ever learn?
+9 # roger paul 2013-06-27 12:59
For Daniel

War’s a whore
That fucks your mind

That eats your soul
And leaves you blind

From the terrors you have seen
And horrors worse than any dream

your are missed
+5 # lcotler 2013-06-27 14:45
Right on, Rog. As a Vietnam vet, Eagle Scout, and born on the Fourth of July—I shall sing your song to the moon and hope it bounces back and does some good somewhere....
+5 # Lolanne 2013-06-27 14:49
May God, by any name a believer chooses, have mercy on this man's family and give them comfort in their grief and suffering; and on ALL of those so affected and afflicted by this totally unnecessary, immoral war. There is no need to call down curses upon those who lied and cheated to get us into such an evil war; karma has already taken notice of them and they WILL reap the harvest of what they have sown, whether in this life or the next. Unlike those who should be prosecuting these evil doers for their crimes, karma does not overlook such actions. What they have let loose in the world WILL return to them. Yes, I'd like to see it in my lifetime, but it really doesn't matter. Retribution is inexorable, whenever and however it occurs for these vermin.
+4 # aitengri 2013-06-27 19:49
"My final mission" calls for silence, even though my response here contradicts "silence". Beyond all of the historical and political "ramifications" , there is this huge void facing all of us, the void of time beyond life and death. Compassion is the only word that comes to mind for me. And we rarely are compassionate, above all, towards ourselves.
0 # j.a.merrick 2013-07-21 21:50
I am a Desert Storm veteran and have been waiting 23 yrs. for help. When I read this article, WOW it really hit home for me. I am not sure some days what keeps me going. I rescued a Blue Pit about 8 mos. ago and she makes me laugh and forget each day, just for 5 minutes. I look for ways to help someone each day.
I thank Daniel for the courage it took to write this letter, and I understand why he took his final mission.
I hope people military and civilian wake up to the true roots behind ALL wars and the condition of the world. Get rid of the distractions and follow the money.

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